A U.S.-based study sought to assess whether the age at which a person retires impacts the length of his/her life. The study examines if there is any survival advantage for individuals who retire early.
The age of retirement was compared to the mortality of the participant; the subjects retired at 55, 60 or 65. The study found that the mortality rate was higher in individuals who retired early; individuals who retired at 55 had a much higher mortality rate than individuals who retired at either 60 or 65. Understandably, retirement age interacted with other known demographic predictors of mortality. Participants who lived in low socioeconomic (SES) conditions had a higher mortality rate than retirees in high SES conditions. Among the employees who retired at 55, the risk of dying was 80% greater for men.
It is theorized that retiring early has an association with a higher rate of mortality because early retirees decrease their physical, social, and mental activities earlier than later retirees. These decreased activities put them at greater risk for recurring health problems. Individuals who had recurring health problems and retired early because of these problems were also found to have a higher mortality rate.
Although many older adults remain active after they retire, many become significantly more sedentary each year after retirement. Health and wellness educators need to focus on the elevated risks that come along with retirement by promoting active lifestyles and wellness behaviors into old age.
Source: Tsai, S., Wendt, J., et al. Age at Retirement and Long Term Survival of an Industrial Population: Prospective Cohort Study. BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38586.448704.E0.